Tagg Romney opened the show today, and the new dad –new twins at home– had time to walk through Time’s Mark Halperin’s recounting of why Team Obama is pretending to be confident. Either they are delusional or they are trying to keep panic at bay. Either way, the transcript of the conversation with Tagg Romney will be posted here later.
HH: I begin today with Tagg Romney, oldest son of Mitt and Ann Romney, and himself a brand new dad again. David Mitt and William Ryder, twin boys, came home from the hospital I think this weekend. Congratulations, Tagg, you and Jen are now the parents of six, right?
TR: That’s correct. And I’ve actually got them here in the car with me. So I apologize if they’re squeaking in the background.
HH: Anyone getting any sleep at the Romney household?
TR: (laughing) Not very much these days. My wife and I have been trading off nighttimes, and there’s not a lot of sleep to go around, unfortunately. [# More #]
HH: Are these the first twins among the 18 grandchildren for Mitt and Ann Romney?
TR: My brother, Matt, had twins as well. His first children were twins. They’re 11 now.
HH: Okay, so there’s a little experience somewhere in the family on what to do.
HH: Now your daughter, Allie, is the oldest of the grandchildren. Is she excited? Or is she just looking at a long stretch of babysitting?
TR: No, she’s very excited. She already knows she’s a babysitter, so this is just two more to add to the fold. And she was excited to bring them home, and everyone’s happy to have them in the family.
HH: Are they twins, I mean, are they identical twins?
TR: They’re fraternal.
HH: Fraternal. Now Tagg, you and your wife were helped along by a surrogate. Now that happens thousands of times every year. But I’m wondering, bringing home new babies is difficult. But is MSM and the tabloids giving you a little space? Or are they trying to create controversy?
TR: No, we’ve actually had a lot of space. There were a couple of articles here or there, and we anticipated that given the scrutiny my dad is under. But people have been pretty good, and we’re sure fortunate to be able to go through what we went through, do what we did, and we feel very blessed, and just, it really is, life is a miracle. It’s amazing to see these two new little babies come into our family and change things for the better.
HH: It takes a lot of optimism these days to have one baby, much less six. And the first time I actually sat down with your father, he said his perspective changed when he became a grandfather. I’m curious, as a new dad, if you’ve been thinking about this campaign and where the country is right now in a different sort of way?
TR: Yeah, you know, I am worried about the future that my kids have here in America. I think it’s the first time, really, that people are not so sure that their kids’ future is brighter than their own. I think the burdens that we’re putting on them with the debt and the slow economy, and just the burdening regulations that we’re putting on businesses, it’s going to be, unless we have someone get in there and change things and bring us back and help restore American principles, help restore us to the way America should be, I think it’ll be tough for our kids to have the same promise and future that we ourselves had. So it’s something I’m very concerned about. And with six, you know, having to pay for college and watching the college tuition rise so dramatically, and health care and everything else, it just makes you that much more motivated to help get the country back on the right track.
HH: Now Tagg Romney, when I mentioned controversy, last week, the New York Times went after the investment firm that you were a partner in. Are you surprised by that? You know, it’s not unusual for kids to get caught up, but that’s a little far afield.
TR: Yeah, you know, you said they went after us, but I think the New York Times is going to do what they can do. They’re doing what they can do to get Barack Obama elected, typically. And the fact that there was no follow up stories, I think they were doing their best to try to make us look bad, and what they discovered was we played by the rules. And I think the biggest thing that they said was that we were trying to somehow use my father’s name to help raise money. But we showed pretty clearly that we hadn’t done that.
HH: I want to get to the campaign…Now to the campaign. President Obama’s campaign has had more launches than North Korea, and just about as successful. What did you make of Saturday’s effort when they did not get the attendance they had hoped for in Ohio of all places?
TR: You know, I think they were probably surprised by it. I think they expected, the last campaign, you remember, they had raised expectations so high, people thought he was the chosen one, and that he was going to work hard so people not having to pay their mortgages anymore. And now, reality has set in, and they realize that you know, hope and change doesn’t buy you a loaf of bread. And people are realizing we need someone to get in there that knows what they’re doing, and has the experience to turn things around. I’m very hopeful that we’re going to win this thing, Hugh. I think our message is resonating. I think people are worried about the economy. I think people are realizing that for whatever reasons, Barack Obama is in over his head, and we need a change of direction.
HH: You know, they’ve got a lot of false hubris over at Team Obama. And Mark Halperin of Time Magazine sat down with them. I don’t know if you had a chance to read this yet about why they’re so confident about beating Romney. I wanted to run through some of the arguments they offered up and get your reaction, Tagg Romney. First, writes Halperin, in the view of the Obamians, Romney is still a weak candidate, his stump skills continue to be uneven at best, with speeches plagued by awkward jargon and passionless rhetoric. I don’t know which campaign rallies they’re going to, but I’m thinking the Super Tuesday or Pennsylvania, that’s just not the case.
TR: Yeah, and I think listen, I think he’s pretty good on the stump. And here’s what people want. We’re not electing an entertainer-in-chief. We are electing a commander-in-chief, and someone who’s going to lead the country. I don’t think there’s, even on the Democratic side, I think people would have to admit if you looked at the qualifications, my dad is the most competent, the most qualified person in this race. And what we need is not someone who’s going to be able to entertain us by playing musical instruments on the Letterman show, but it’s going to be who’s going to get the economy moving again. And my dad, I think measured by those standards, is going to win the hearts and minds every time. So I feel very good about our chances of winning. Listen, if they’re overconfident and think that this thing’s in the bag, that’s great. Let’s not do anything to change their minds. Let them continue to be arrogant on that stuff, and we’ll go to work in the swing states and all around the country, and do our best to win votes.
HH: Further down in the article, Mark Halperin brings up that they intend to go after your dad’s endorsement of Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Now he hasn’t endorsed it entirely, but he’s in concept with it. What do you think? Women will be warned about the threat to reproductive freedom, senior citizens dependent on Medicare will be told again and again about the Paul Ryan budget plan. These are scare tactics. They are the old playbook. Are they going to work, Tagg Romney?
TR: No, and here’s what Obama, their team has realized. And listen, in some ways, you can’t blame them, because I mean, he can’t run on his record, because his record is not a good one. So what they’re going to do is they’re going to try to divide America. They’re going to try to pit one group against the other. They’re trying to say that Republicans are attacking women, which is just not true. They’re going to try and say that Republicans are attacking seniors, which just isn’t true. They’re going to try to set up false straw men and women, and then attack those straw men and women. And listen, Paul Ryan realizes that we have a budget crisis in this country, and that we need to do something to fix it. And so we need to, listen, we need to be adults, and roll up our sleeves, figure out how we’re going to fix the massive, growing debt that we’ve got going on. And part of that is cutting spending. We’ve got to find a way to cut spending, and get the growth of government under control. And I think that’s an argument that people recognize at the end of the day is the right one, and they’re going to want to not burden their kids with more and more debt. And I think the Republicans will end up on the right side of this issue.
HH: A couple of political questions to close out, Tagg Romney. Beth Myers coordinating the vice presidential search, are you helping with that at all?
TR: I lobby, I’m the peanut gallery. I’ll lob in my…but listen, Beth is so good. She’s very qualified to do what she’s doing. She’s got a good team of people helping her. They’re going through, and by the far, the most important qualification that they will look at is, is the person that they pick ready to be president? And I don’t think you’re going to see a political pick. I think you’re going to see a pick of somebody who they think would be a good person to step in if, Heaven forbid, something should happen to my dad while he’s there. And Beth is so smart and competent herself that I think they’ll do a good job. And the ultimate decision, of course, will be my dad’s, but she’ll do the groundwork, and narrow down the field, a large field, to a smaller field, eventually, and then let the process go from there.
HH: Any lessons from when Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey joined your father on the ticket in Massachusetts in ’02? Anything there that veep-watchers can chew on, Tagg Romney?
TR: Yes. You know, I think she was, we looked at a number of potential people. She was someone who we thought was intelligent, who was qualified, who we thought would be a good potential governor, and really understood, had the same philosophy that my dad had, conservative fiscal values, and we felt would have been a good governor. And so I think you’ll see the same type of process, obviously on a much larger scale, in picking the vice president.
HH: One minute, Tagg Romney, the Battleground poll came out and showed just an amazingly close race. They don’t look at Pennsylvania and Michigan very often. I think those are the map stretchers. What do you think about the Romney campaign in both Pennsylvania and Michigan come the fall?
TR: I think we’ve got a pretty good shot. I think if people are going to realize that if they want a brighter future economically, and for their country, I think there are a lot of voters in those two states that have not historically voted Republican recently, but are going to be willing to do so. And my dad’s from Michigan originally. His dad was very popular there. And I think people are ready to listen to a grown up, adult message. And my dad’s bringing that, and I think we’ve got a good shot.
HH: Tagg Romney, again, congratulations to you and Jen on the arrival of David and William. Talk to you again soon.
End of interview.